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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Guo Wengui’s former ‘farm’ manager testifies that his ‘whole movement is a scam’

Guo, a business associate to Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon, is standing trial on federal charges of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud in a supposed $1 billion scheme to defraud his supporters.

MANHATTAN (CN) — Ya Li was once a part of the “Iron Blood Group,” the name Guo Wengui gave to his inner circle of fervent supporters. Known as “Mulan” to Guo’s associates, Li said she passionately helped Guo raise millions of dollars for his projects.

But after several years of working with Guo, Li said that she feels very differently about him today.

“The whole movement is a scam,” Li said Thursday. “He cheated us.”

Li took the stand this week in Manhattan federal court to testify against Guo. Prosecutors claim Guo hawked a series of phony investment projects to his own supporters, whom he cultivated through his relentless advocacy against the Chinese Communist Party.

Guo — also known as Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Guo — is standing trial on federal racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud charges. If convicted, the Chinese businessman and media mogul could face more than 200 years in prison or be deported to China, where he is wanted on accusations of rape, kidnapping and bribery.

Prosecutors say that Guo, whose media partnership with Steve Bannon made him a prevalent figure in the MAGA movement, built a fraud empire worth more than $1 billion.

Li testified that, as Guo circulated his various memberships, cryptocurrencies and stocks to his supporters, all of the real currency his followers used to participate in the makeshift economy went back to Guo. Several witnesses have already testified that they lost tens of thousands of dollars as a result. 

Li’s job was to gather money by managing online groups called "farms" that supported Guo. She said Thursday that she raised millions of dollars from investors for Guo’s business ventures, including GTV, the online video platform Li founded with Bannon, and G CLUBS, Guo’s membership program for those in his anti-communist movement the New China Federation.

“Strictly speaking, it’s the earliest identification card of the New China Federation,” Guo said of the G CLUBS membership cards in a video clip played to the court.

Prosecutors on Thursday played several clips of Guo advertising his businesses and criticizing the Chinese Communist Party. In those clips, Guo spoke to his supporters using phrases like “comrades-in-arms” and “brothers and sisters.”

Li, testifying with a non-prosecution agreement, said she watched those videos regularly as she raised money for the cause.

“I trusted Miles Guo 100%,” Li said numerous times throughout her testimony.

But Li said things changed when Guo filed for bankruptcy in 2022, and his empire started to unravel. Li said that Guo sent paid protestors to the house of his court-appointed bankruptcy trustee and others involved in the Chapter 11 proceedings.

That was standard practice for Guo, according to Li. She said Guo had been known to send protestors to attack his critics, which included disgruntled investors who wanted refunds.

“If they start to publicly criticize [Guo], then they would be called CCP spies and be put on the ‘blacklist,’” Li said.

Li said Guo tried to get her involved in the bankruptcy proceedings by getting a lawyer to pressure her into signing a “false affidavit” to the court. Li refused.

“I know we can’t say lies to the court,” she said.

But pressure mounted on Li. She said Guo’s lawyer threatened her to sign the affidavit by suggesting that she would be “fully responsible” for paying back $38 million if the bankruptcy proceedings didn’t go their way. Li said it was enough to make her consider suicide.

“I don’t have $38 million,” Li said, fighting through tears on the witness stand. “If they want me to pay, they can take my life. They can kill me.”

Li said the experience made her rethink the past several years, which she spent trusting Guo wholeheartedly. She said she poured back through the deals she signed, the money she wired and the speeches Guo gave.

“I fully realized this is a scam,” Li said.

Li realized that Guo had been keeping the money for himself to fund luxury purchases like expensive cars and a 150-foot yacht. She chastised him for using investor money to buy a New Jersey mansion, which Guo claimed was a “secret base” for his supporters.

“Our investment is for taking down the CCP, not for his family, for his luxury life,” Li said, claiming that she never would have helped Guo raise money if she knew where it was really going.

Li testified in front of rows of Guo’s current supporters in the courtroom, who audibly reacted with murmurs when Li said she testified to show how “Miles Guo cheated us, how Miles Guo lied to us, how Miles Guo misled us.”

Guo looked on from his seat at the defense table, sitting up straight and listening diligently through a pair of headphones that translated Li’s testimony into Mandarin. Li was the tenth witness to testify for prosecutors.

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Categories / Criminal, International, Politics

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